Dynamics of Appropriability - Finding a Balance between Efficiency and Strength in the Appropriability Regime
Hurmelinna-Laukkanen, Pia (2005)
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Acta Universitatis LappeenrantaensisURN: ISSN 1456-4491
Building and sustaining competitive advantage through the creation of market imperfections is challenging in a constantly changing business environment - particularly since the sources of such advantages are increasingly knowledge-based. Facilitated by improved networks and communication, knowledge spills over to competitors more easily than before,thus creating an appropriability problem: the inability of an innovating firm to utilize its innovations commercially. Consequently, as the importance of intellectual assets increases, their protection also calls for new approaches. Companies have various means of protection at their disposal, and by taking advantage of them they can make intangibles more non-transferable and prevent, or at leastdelay, imitation of their most crucial intellectual assets. However, creating barriers against imitation has another side to it, and the transfer of knowledge in situations requiring knowledge sharing may be unintentionally obstructed. Theaim of this thesis is to increase understanding of how firms can balance knowledge protection and sharing so as to benefit most from their knowledge assets. Thus, knowledge protection is approached through an examination of the appropriability regime of a firm, i.e., the combination of available and effective means ofprotecting innovations, their profitability, and the increased rents due to R&D. A further aim is to provide a broader understanding of the formation and structure of the appropriability regime. The study consists of two parts. The first part introduces the research topic and the overall results of the study, and the second part consists of six complementary research publications covering various appropriability issues. The thesis contributes to the existing literature in several ways. Although there is a wide range of prior research on appropriability issues, a lot of it is restricted either to the study of individual appropriability mechanisms, or to comparing certain features of them. These approaches are combined, and the relevant theoretical concepts are clarified and developed. In addition, the thesis provides empirical evidence of the formation of the appropriability regime, which is consequently presented as an adaptive process. Thus, a framework is provided that better corresponds to the complex reality of the current business environment.
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